View video: Preface

View video: Preface
View video: Chapter 1


1. All decisions occur in a milieu of constraints. Briefly describe an important decision you have been involved with. What were the major constraints you or other decision makers faced when making this decision? How did these constraints affect the decision outcome? (1 page)

2. Identify five routine decisions you’ve made in the past twenty four hours. For each decision, what were the principal decision-related challenges you faced? To what extent where these challenges handled at the conscious level when making your decision (i.e., Did you reflect on them before making the decision? Did your reflections influence the decisions?)? (1 page)

3. Traditional approaches to decision making emphasize the need for rationality. (1 page total)

a. When we say decisions need to be rational, what do we mean?
b. Why is the need for rationality such a strongly held belief among theorists and practitioners of decision making? That is, why do so many people believe that it is a core requirement for effective decisions?
[The answer to this question can be found in the text, online lecture, and video presentations. Be sure to draw on this course material.]
An important decision that I have been involved in revolved around conducting annual training exercise requirements for fifty-six personnel. Of the fifty-six personnel, they are equally divided into five teams that are tasked to perform aircraft battle damage repair on different aircraft. Traditionally the training is conducted over a two-week period with all members of the team present in order to maintain team continuity. The first week of training occurs in a classroom where material is covered as a refresher type training to ensure personnel are still familiar with current operating procedures. The second week of training involves going out to the field and conducting hands-on repairs on trainer aircraft. Given this information, the problem is getting all the members on the specific teams at the same place at the same time in order to conduct the exercise training. The leadership of the flight had to come together to make a decision on what the best alternatives would be to ensure members of the team met their annual training requirements. This decision was not easily made due to the numerous constraints that we had to identify in order to make a decision that would effectively help the flight meet the training directives outlined in governing regulations.
While coming together to make a decision on the training requirements we faced some constraints that we had to identify in order to make an decision that would provide effective training for the personnel. The constraints we faced were limited imagination, legacy-rooted limitations, psychological limitations, limited time, and limitations imposed by external forces.When dealing with the constraint of limited imagination as a group we were unable to immediately envision an effective decision alternative and how it would affect the teams. In reality when teams are tasked in an actual operation, personnel are sent out as needed for the damaged areas on the aircraft meaning in all actuality having the team train together would not be as critical as others perceived. The decision-makers limited imagination did not make the decision process easy. Having limited imagination also rolled into legacy-rooted limitation constraints. The traditional method of conducting the annual training involved planning for an entire team to be together in order to conduct the training. Since this was considered the legacy model for the training, there was reluctance to change. However, conducting the training under this legacy model was leading to overdue training for personnel and creating stress in other areas of our operational requirements. The decision on annual training also faced psychological limitations. In this instance, the view of training the team as a cohesive unit was detached from the norm, thereby creating a decision that was not aligned with reality. Previous decision-makers were ultimately focused on keeping teams trained together even though teams were selected by who was available, what damages were encountered, and experiences needed to complete the mission. Psychological constraints further divided the decision making process to choose the best alternative for annual training. Limited time constraints also affected the decision process. One would assume that with fifty-two weeks a year there would be enough time for two weeks of training. However, when you begin to factor in other operational requirements and personal leave and emergencies the time to train teams together continued to be constrained. Finally, the decision making process faced the constraints of external factors limitations. Since we conduct a week of the training on aircraft outside with no protection from the elements of weather, this affected the decision process even further. All of these constraints affected the decision making process when reviewing our annual training requirements.Good analysis. You did a good job using a narrative to analyze the question. I also applaud you for using the course terminology. Nevertheless, I want to encourage you to use a table to analyze these types of multi-faceted and integrated questions. I think you will find that a table will help you ensure that you addressed each element. The rigor makes for a compelling analysis. You could have constructed your table as follows:

Decision Player Role Perspective Constraints

Five routine decisions I have made in the past twenty-four hours include; what clothes I should wear, what store I should shop online from, what to eat for dinner, whether to watch the presidential debate, and what football game to watch. Each of these decisions may or may not have presented a decision-related challenge based upon risk or uncertainty. Additionally, these decisions were made at different levels of consciousness depending upon the level of thought required to make the best choice. Since the greatest challenge when facing a decision is uncertainty, one of these decisions I made was shrouded in uncertainty and risk it will be an excellent display of the decision-making process that occurs on a daily basis in life. Furthermore, these decisions will illustrate whether they were made consciously or non-consciously dependent on level of effort needed to make the decision or actively based upon multiple options or difficulties in assessing the costs or benefits.
Looking at the first routine decision, “what clothes should I wear” this seems to be an easy decision. Observing the uncertainty continuum, I had 100% of the information needed to make this decision. The clothes I was choosing was for church and the dress code is routine and well-defined making the decision easy. This decision was not full of risk or uncertainty, and therefore made at a non-conscious level. Making a decision on what church clothes to wear was easy and needed very little effort because my decision was made from experiences on attending church and selecting the proper attire. The decision of what store to shop online from was much more difficult. In making the decision I was faced with a level of risk, make a purchase from a company I found over the internet that I have never conducted business with, or make the purchase from a company I knew I would be protected. I had pervious experiences buying from a company that did not work out and had to go through trouble to get the money back. Therefore, I had some information, but not enough to make the best decision. This decision was made at a conscious level. In my case, making this purchase choice was trivial and if I made the decision to use the unknown company the outcome would be uncertain versus the alternative of buying the same product from a business I have used before and with positive certainty what the outcome would be. Deciding on what to eat for dinner is another example of non-conscious level decision. When considering this decision I knew what was available in the pantry and refrigerator therefore I had once again 100% of the information needed to make a choice. Since this is a decision that occurs on a regular basis, I put no effort into selecting my meal and my projected outcome was clear to make a decision that would satisfy my hunger. Moving to the decision of watching the presidential debate, this choice was made at the conscious level. Typically, when decisions have uncertainty they are inherently risky since one cannot discern the outcomes. In this choice the uncertainty more so aligned with the fact I had no idea what the candidates would discuss creating a sense of appeal. Additionally, there was absolutely no risk of whether to watch the debate or not. During this decision-making process, I was actively aware and weighing pros and cons of what new information about the candidates was worth my time to tune into the presidential debate. The final routine decision I was faced with in the last twenty-four hours was which football game to watch. In this decision-making process, I managed a non-conscious decision. Mainly this occurred due to the fact my favorite team was not playing at the time, thereby negating uncertainty or risk that I may miss out on something from another game. Since I put no effort into choosing an alternative game there were no great challenges that I had to contend. Now had the timing been different when I sat down to watch football, if my favorite team was playing while a significant game was additionally going on my decision-making process would have been entirely different.

Under the traditional approach to decision making when it is referenced that decisions need to be rational what exactly does this mean. The fundamental perception based on the traditional method of decision-making correlates that good decisions are made rationally. A rational decision therefore would have to provide a logical solution to a decision. To better define what a rational decision is breaking the explanation of how one would come to a rational decision under the old paradigm is necessary.Expanding the thought of rationality further reveals there are four criteria needed to say a decision is rational. First, when saying a decision is rational it is assumed it permeated from logical thinking. This means that the decision maker applied logic in assessing the problem and arrived at the decision. A rational decision is also said to yield the optimal results. Any decision that lends positive outcomes is therefore considered a rational decision. Ultimately, the solution to the problem must be considered. If the decision results in an optimal solution it is again granted the notion that it is a rational choice. Lastly, a rational decision will serve the interest of the decision-maker under traditional thinking. This means that one can assume that the decision-maker made a rational decision as long as the maker of said decision benefits in one way or another.The key aspect to realize is rationality is not objective; between two groups, the same reality may appear different given their experiences. When it comes to making a rational decision, the greatest effort should be made to not make an egregious irrational decision.
There have been long standing beliefs that rationality is a core requirement for an effective decision within the traditional approach to decision making. Its argument is founded in that in order to decipher between a good or bad decision that logic and objectivity must be applied. It is also noted under the traditional decision making method that decisions arrived on whims will likely produce bad results and any positive results are an accidental occurrence (Frame, 2013). To that extent the most rational decision will therefore be one that benefits the decision maker and his or her reality perception. Until you account for the multiple utility factors that can occur within a decision does the lines on a sound decision being to blur. Delving further into the theorists’ beliefs that rationality is a core requirement into decision making reveals that it stemmed from economists. Homo economicus otherwise known as the economic man is how economists framed the ideas of a rational decision maker. It was Adam Smith who stapled an individual decision maker operating within the market would satisfy their self-interest if it were a competitive environment (Frame, 2013). This thought sparked many other economists to expand and begin to theorize what an economic decision process would entail. Three economists including Walras, Edgeworth, and Pareto all produced economic models focused on the homo economics that grew to be a significant piece within economic theory. The economic man became a fictitious figurehead represented as rational, possessing 100% information that locked down utility functions to the fullest extent. The work of these economists in the nineteenth century cemented the traditional decision making paradigm that rationality was a core requirement of all decisions.

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